Your Industry  

Building financially resilient adults starts at school

George Tsounias

George Tsounias

While financial education loosely exists on the national curriculum, its teaching can be very sporadic with little impact as it does not take priority over the main exam subjects. 

Furthermore, it is often left to teachers, some of whom might not have had good financial education, let alone trained in it, to pick up the resources and deliver the content. 

This lack of priority and potential preparation in delivery ultimately impacts the students in the classroom who leave school feeling like they have learnt little or nothing about finance at school.

At a time where the economy is talked about daily and a plethora of unknown words such as rising debt, living costs, credit, APR, tax rates and more are mentioned frequently in the mainstream media, it is now more important than ever that our young people are equipped with the knowledge to make some sense of all this and begin their journey of understanding more about money. 

Buy now, pay later

The rise of the ‘buy now, pay later’ trend that has swamped the online retail market has almost made it cool to essentially take out credit and potentially fall into debt. Whatever happened to saving up for something?

Recent research from Citizens Advice suggests that one in eight young people have been chased by debt collectors. Lured by the endless marketing campaigns and sponsored influencer ads on Instagram and Tiktok, coupled with a lack of understanding of how credit really works, it is no real surprise that we are creating a generation that are becoming hooked on debt from a young age.

Of course, debt at some point in life is inevitable, like taking out a mortgage for a house, but there is a difference between good and bad debt as well as understanding one’s capability to pay it back.

Financial fraud and scams

Over the past year more than 1m people reported scams to HM Revenue & Customs. Alarmingly, HMRC has recently warned university students to be on the lookout for potential scams.

This is due to the higher number of students going to university and potentially opting for a part-time job where their interaction with HMRC has been little to non-existent. It is, therefore, no surprise that young people, just like other vulnerable parts of society, are highly susceptible to financial scams and frauds. 

So, how do we expect young people to make informed financial decisions or prevent falling for scams without knowledge?

The road to financial resilience in adult life has to start from a young age and, arguably, in school. We have a duty to ensure young people leave school with real life skills and be equipped with the knowledge to make informed and balanced financial decisions.

For the past few years, the My Personal Finance Skills initiative, delivered by personal finance professionals and members of the Personal Finance Society, has embarked on a free national financial education programme to teach students more about money matters.